Constant power outages continue to undermine agricultural activity at ARDA Antelope Estate in Matobo district with 345 hectares of the soya bean crop put under the 2018/2019 summer farming season currently under threat.

ARDA Antelope Estate in Matobo district is one of the biggest producers of food in the province, with 345 hectares of soya beans, 90 hectares of maize and 250 hectares of the sugar bean seed currently at various stages of growth at the   irrigation scheme.

There are, however, fears that the constant power cuts could affects yields, particularly the soya bean crop which is at pod filling stage.

ARDA board chairman Mr Basil Nyabadza called on critical service providers like the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority to ensure that they play ball if food security and nutrition is to be realised. 

“We are pleased that this is the first time that we have put soya and it’s doing very well  as such  we expect maximum support from other agencies of government. Power outages are experienced on a high level here and that is under mining our yield,” said Mr Nyabadza.

The irrigation scheme which planted soya beans under the command agricultural programme is expecting a yield of three tonnes per hectare when harvesting starts at the beginning of April revealed estate manager Andries Van Heerden.

“The crop is now at pot filling stage and at the end of March it will start ripening, then beginning of April we will be harvesting. After that we begin preparations for the winter farming season,” he said.

ARDA Antelope Estate which was lying fallow a few years ago has managed to turn around its fortunes through a public-private partnership.

Plans are also in place to expand the estate to 3 000 hectares under the same arrangement.

Matabeleland South Province planted 888 hectares of soya beans this agricultural season compared to 70 hectares during the 2017/2018 season.